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What is joint manipulation?
When you hear joint manipulation you may think of chiropractic adjustments of the spine to improve mobility and decrease pain. Joint manipulation under anesthesia (MUA), however, is performed by a physician, usually an orthopedist, skilled at stretching and maneuvering parts of the body to break up adhesions (areas where scar tissue has built up) in major joint locations such as elbow, knee, pelvis and shoulder. Loosening the adhesions, or “freeing” the joint, allows for greater mobility and less pain.
People who may benefit from joint manipulation include those who have arthrofibrosis (buildup of scar tissue) on the elbow or knee joint after surgery or a break. Other candidates for the procedure include people who have a fractured or dislocated pelvis or have adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder).
What to expect from a joint manipulation treatment
Since the procedure takes place while you’re under anesthesia, you won’t feel anything. Also, your usual protective reflexes will be relaxed, which allows the doctor to easily manipulate your joints. Your treatment may include corticosteroid injections to help reduce inflammation and related pain.
After the treatment, you may have some pain and swelling. Depending on your condition, it may take a few days or longer to return to regular activities. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to support the work done during the procedure and help prevent formation of future adhesions. For many patients, joint manipulation therapy is successful in improving range of motion and decreasing pain.